Healthcare workers at Fairview Rehab & Nursing Home recently described what they called “crazy” conditions at the Queens facility, according to an April 20, 2020 report by Gothamist. One of the staff members said she showed up for a job interview and was “whisked” through a training session and hired immediately, with the nurse leading the training session explaining that many of the facility’s staff and managers were “out sick with COVID-19.” This nurse explained that the facility had a nurse-to-resident ratio of 40:1, and then asked the prospective job applicants who “could begin a double shift immediately.”
Conditions inside the nursing home are so severe, according to the report, that most of the facility’s 200 residents have “acute pressure ulcers,” meaning it has been days since they were turned over by nurses. “They’re slumped over in bed, just laying there rotting,” one nurse told Gothamist. The report also describes shortages of infection control supplies like gloves, hand sanitizers, and even medication. Staff were reportedly instructed not to record missing medication as out of stock, but instead to “note that a resident refused it.” Inexperienced staff are in some instances “given high-level tasks,” workers said, including one instance when a nursing assistant inserted a resident’s nasal cannula “upside down,” a “potentially deadly error” that resulted in a “gasping fit” before it was caught.
“By the end of their first shift, multiple newly-hired workers had quit, citing fear of being named in an inevitable malpractice suit,” Gothamist reported. As of the report’s publication, more than 1,200 nursing home residents had died as a result of COVID-19, with nursing home facilities comprising “more than 17 percent” of COVID-19-related deaths in the state. The high rate of fatality may be partly attributable to the disease’s lethality in elderly and immunocompromised populations, according to the report, which says that nonetheless some healthcare professionals and advocacy groups believe other factors are to blame: namely, “staffing shortages” and “bureaucratic neglect.”
According to the facility’s Department of Health profile, Fairview Rehab & Nursing Home received 13 citations for violations of health and safety codes between 2016 and 2020. An April 2019 citation, for instance, found that the facility failed to ensure the adequate maintenance of infection control practices. An inspector specifically observed staff members entering contact isolation rooms “on multiple occasions” without first donning personal protective equipment, so as to prevent the spread of transmissible pathogens. The facility’s infection control program stated that staff should follow current city, state, and CDC guidance, and that staffers entering contact isolation rooms should wash their hands, wear gloves, and additionally wear gowns if they expect their clothing to have “substantial contact with residents, contaminated environmental surfaces/items, body fluids, or wound drainage.” One of the occasions in described by an inspector involved the performance of wound care for a resident, during which a nurse was observed not wearing a gown. The citation states that these deficiencies had the “potential to cause more than minimal harm” to residents.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.